MADRID (Reuters) - A military plane carrying 139 people, mostly Spanish-Palestinian citizens and some of their relatives, from Egypt after being evacuated from the besieged Gaza Strip landed in Madrid on Thursday.
Spain's acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares and acting Defence Minister Margarita Robles welcomed the evacuees on the runway of the Torrejon de Ardoz air base, outside the Spanish capital.
According to the defence ministry, the passengers included 33 men, 39 women and 67 minors - three of them babies under one year of age. Eighty-five of the evacuees held Spanish passports, while the remaining 54 were Palestinian nationals.
Albares expressed his happiness at their arrival, adding: "We shouldn't forget that the lives of many other Palestinian civilians are being unjustly threatened by bombings".
Amir Abu Jaraf, a 17-year-old high school student, told Reuters that before the war broke out, he was applying to study at a college in the United States.
"I'm happy because I'm alive," he said. "This is my mother here. Not everyone in Gaza is so lucky to have their mother next to them ... I'm very lucky to have my mother and my sister."
Riad Al Aila, a professor of political science at Gaza's Al-Azhar University, said his family had endured 30 days of bombardment - "every day, every minute" - before they fled to Egypt through the Rafah border crossing.
"Now we're in a good situation, but we also feel the pain of what we've left behind, the pain of our families, not knowing what will happen to them," he said.
The crossing between Gaza and Egypt opened on Nov. 1 as part of a Qatar-brokered deal between Israel, Egypt, Hamas and the United States, to let some foreign passport holders and some wounded Gazans out of the besieged enclave.
(Reporting by Miguel Gutierrez and Marco Trujillo; Writing by David Latona; Editing by)